According to Start Up Nation’s two authors, Dan Senor and Saul Singer, Israel – a young country of 7.1 million people, surrounded by enemies and in a constant state of war since its founding and lacking important natural resources – has produced more start-up companies per capita than any other country. They attribute this economic growth and innovation largely to two factors: mandatory military service and immigration.
But what they may underestimate is the uniqueness of Israel, the Jewish State, in its inherent desire to actualize Jewish and biblical values. Whether consciously or not, many of Israel’s greatest startups promote biblical values and disproportionately change the lives of billions of people around the world.
Here are some examples:
Or Cam: Empowering the Visually Impaired
“I am the Lord, who called you with righteousness, I will strengthen your hand; I will protect you; I will set you for a covenant to the people, to be a light unto the nations; to open blind eyes; to remove a prisoner from confinement, dwellers in darkness from a dungeon” (Isaiah 42:6)
“OrCam’s mission is to harness the power of artificial vision by incorporating pioneering technology into a wearable platform which improves the lives of individuals who are blind, visually impaired, and have reading difficulties,” Rafi Fischer, Director of Media Communications of OrCam Technologies, told Breaking Israel News.
Founded by the co-founders of Mobileye, the Israeli collision avoidance system leader and autonomous driving innovator, OrCam’s founders brought to life in 2015 a finger-sized wireless device that can attach to eyeglasses and reads printed and digital text aloud. By “reading” any surface, the device can recognize faces and products, colors text, and monetary bills and transmit that information by audio to the wearer.
In 2017, the next generation OrCam MyEye 2.0 was launched. It is now available in 15 languages and in 25 countries, with nearly 20,000 users globally and counting.
“By communicating a great deal of visual information in real time, the assisted tech device helps people find greater independence in their lives,” said Fischer. “So many Israeli tech companies out there are doing amazing things, but OrCam isn’t a gadget you play around with. It’s truly the most advanced artificial vision device that empowers people who are cut off from the world around them because of visual impairment, aphasia and dyslexia. It helps people help themselves to become more self-sufficient and overcome obstacles with a non-invasive, real time device.”
According to Fischer, later this year, OrCam will be launching in Japan and China, adding characters to the device’s readable languages.
Hillel Fuld, Israeli Startup Advisor and tech blogger, praised OrCam, telling Breaking Israel News, “That’s Jewish values if I ever heard any.”
Innovation: Africa: Bringing Light Unto the Nations
“Hashem said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” (Genesis 1:3)
Innovation: Africa brings Israeli know-how to Africa and has transformed the lives of over 1 million Africans. Their team has brought innovative Israeli solar and water technologies to remote African villages, providing access to vaccines, light, and water. According to Innovation: Africa, while the continent is twice the size of the United States, much of the population has never seen a light bulb – only 34% of health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have reliable electricity access. This means that medical professionals often treat people in the dark and without refrigeration, there is nowhere to store various vaccines and medicines. Thirty-five percent of students use candles and kerosene lamps in their classrooms and because of a lack of energy to pump clean water from the aquifers, one child every two minutes dies from water-borne diseases.
Innovation: Africa brings solar energy to Africa by installing solar panels, pumps and light bulbs to meet these challenges. Not only is this start-up NGO literally bringing light to Africa, they are also acting as a light unto the nations, bringing solutions from the Jewish State to those in need. For this reason, Ron Prosor, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, said: “The amazing work that Innovation: Africa is doing serves as an inspiration to all Israelis. This is the face of Israel that I was so proud to represent in the halls of the United Nations.”
SupPlant: Making the Desert Bloom
“The arid desert shall be glad, The wilderness shall rejoice And shall blossom like a rose.” (Isaiah 35:1)
Many Israeli companies in agrotech work to make the desert bloom. SupPlant, based in Afula, not only makes the Israeli desert bloom, but it also exports its technology worldwide in its vision of preserving the environment and humankind. SupPlant has developed a unique artificial intelligence system that is able to analyze data generated from crops through sensors and translate this data into irrigation commands. These commands tell farmers exactly how to irrigate in real time based on global climate shifts, resulting in more crop production with less wasted resources like water.
According to Ori Ben Ner, Chief Marketing Officer of SupPlant, “without SupPlant’s software and algorithms that provide autonomous scheduling of irrigation, irrigating inaccurately would waste 30% more water.”
He told Breaking Israel News, “SupPlant sells its irrigation software technology and on-the-ground recommendations to farmers around the world,” thus providing the ability for more life-sustaining food production globally. Ben Ner estimates that without irrigation, there would be 3 to 4 billion fewer people in the world, as many would die from lack of food and water.
As the most important startup ecosystem in the world outside of Silicon Valley, the Israeli startup ecosystem’s focus on promoting biblical values not only brings jobs, wealth and innovative solutions to the world, it ensures the Jewish value of tikkun olam, repairing the world. Moreover, it fulfills the biblical prophecy of becoming a light unto the nation, calling the Jewish people to set a personal example of having a positive influence on the world.